When we study the Scripture, we often find ourselves holding to certain truths that seem self-evident, but at the same time raise more questions that seem impossible to answer. The post-modern mind must understand that the Christian claim that humanity can know truth does not preclude the possibility of imperfect and incomplete knowledge. In seeking to understand the limits and power of Man’s knowledge, the figure below is of great value. Here we find two sets of contrasting values that together provide for us a grid inside of which we can better understand the knowledge we possess.
The boxes on the top row indicate the two kinds of knowledge which come from and lead to deception; Incomplete False Knowledge and Complete False Knowledge. Let me illustrate each idea. Let us assume that the dictionary represents all knowledge about the topic of language. Given this premise, Incomplete False Knowledge, describes any kind of knowledge that is false and for which there are still many unknowns. For example, a person who memorizes only one entry from the dictionary, but does not memorize it correctly. Complete False Knowledge, describes any kind of knowledge that is false and holds no degree of uncertainty. For example, a person who memorizes the entire dictionary, but memorizing every definition incorrectly.
In contrast to the above, the boxes in the lower row indicate the two kinds of knowledge which come from Divine revelation: Incomplete True Knowledge and Complete True Knowledge. Again, let us assume for the sake of example that the dictionary represents the fullness of all knowledge about language. Incomplete True Knowledge, then, describes any kind of knowledge that is true but may also have certain areas of doubt. For example, a person who properly memorizes one entry from the dictionary, but not all entries. Complete True Knowledge describes any kind of knowledge that is true and holds no degree of uncertainty. For example, a person who memorizes every entry in the dictionary without exception and without error.
A Kingdom worldview acknowledges that only the Creator-God has Complete and True Knowledge, but as we seek after him, we can in this life attain Incomplete True Knowledge. Only with this hope, can the individual find purpose and unity in the seeming chaos of existence.
In this episode of the 10 Minute Teacher, Dr. Joe Miller surveys 15 Movements and Leaders who shaped the Theological Family Tree of Baptism in the Holy Spirit.
This video covers the Reformed Sealers, Wesleyan Perfectionism, Wesleyan-Holiness, Oberlin-Holiness, the Higher/Deeper Life Movement, The Keswick Movement, Dallas Theological Seminary, Moody Bible Institute, the Christian and Missionary Alliance, Charles Parham, William Seymour, Pentecostal-Holiness, Baptistic-Pentecostal, Oneness-Pentecostal, and Neo-Pentecostal (or Charismatic).
This is one in a series of educational videos from the 10 Minute Teacher on the Theology of Baptism in the Holy Spirit, Sanctification, and the historical develop of Spirit Baptism. This college and seminary level Video Curriculum is freely available for use in for both online and in-class applications of Flipped Theology. Watch more here on More Than Cake or on the Holy Spirit YouTube Playlist
Late last year I was working a booth at a conference in Los Angeles, CA for a popular Christian pastor. A man, lets call him Tim, came to my table and noticed a book written by another famous pastor. Tim turned to the stranger next to him, pointed toward the book, and with great pride exclaimed, “That is my pastor.” The man either did not hear Tim or chose to ignore him, so this time Tim picked up the book and said, “That man is my pastor.” The other guy walked off—Tim was clearly hoping the man would be more impressed.
Tim turned to me, a captive audience at the booth, and proclaimed, “That man is my pastor.”
Tim’s “pastor” leads a popular church in Seattle and since I had recently moved from that area, I was interested to know if we had some friends in common, so I asked, “Oh, so you are from Seattle? What brings you to LA?”
Tim’s answer surprised me, “No,” he said, “I live here in LA.”
Now I was intrigued. How could Pastor X, be Tim’s pastor if he lived 1,200 miles away? So I asked, “Did you recently move here from Seattle?”
“No.” Tim replied, “my church meets in my house and we watch Pastor X’s sermon every week on DVD.”
I immediately felt a twinge of sorrow—sorrow for Tim and sorrow for the Church and what She has become. Pastor X may be an engaging Bible teacher, but he certainly has not taught his followers a biblical definition of what it means to be a Pastor of God’s people. Read the Pastoral Epistles from the Apostle Paul, a pastor is a not a talking-head who ‘phone’s it in’ via DVD. A pastor is someone with a gifting from the Holy Spirit to be a shepherd, a caretaker, a guardian, a servant, and a lover of God’s people.
It is impossible for a anyone to be “my pastor” via DVD or multi-site video. He may inspire, educate, or even motivate, but he is not fulfilling the biblical role of pastor in my life or yours. Sadly, it did not matter to Tim that Pastor X wasn’t really living out the biblical role of “my pastor.” Rather, what mattered most to Tim was that he had a claim to fame through his Paparazzi Pastor.
Much has been said in recent years about the rise of so-called “celebrity pastors” within Christianity, particularly within evangelicalism. Just mention names like Ted Haggard, Rob Bell, Mark Driscoll, Joel Osteen, John Piper, Francis Chan, Bill Hybels and Joyce Meyer, and you’re guaranteed to get a fair share of impassioned praise or heated criticism.
Rachel goes on to share four ways in which the church has been overtaken by the celebrity-pastor. Let me share an excerpt from each of her main points and then I will add two of my own.
We make celebrity pastors when we believe they can do no right or do no wrong.
Everyone has Christian friends who speak about their favorite pastors with the same reverence and awe generally reserved for Jesus or Apple products. These folks hang on every word the pastor writes, preaches or tweets, and can seem incapable of forming opinions of their own without first consulting the person behind the pulpit. This reveals an unhealthy dependency that elevates celebrity pastors to near idols.
We make celebrity pastors when we become their disciples rather than Christ’s.
When Christians look to pastors for wisdom on how to better love God and love one another, they become better disciples of Jesus and better lights of hope in a dark world.
When Christians look to pastors to tell them how to dress, what to eat, what hobbies to have, what systematic theologies to prefer, how to vote and what personality to adopt, they become creepy, unthinking clones of broken people—and big red warning flags to a culture that has grown increasingly suspicious of authority figures.
We make celebrity pastors when we measure success by numbers.
It has become popular for pastors and their followers to imitate the world by bragging about “fruitfulness” in terms of numbers…
But neither Jesus nor His earliest followers ever taught that fruitfulness should be measured in numbers. In fact, like many who labor for Christ around the world today, most of the early disciples were dismissed, marginalized, imprisoned or killed. Rather than attracting big-shot Roman officials and important Jewish scholars, the earliest churches were overwhelmed with the poor, women, widows and slaves. That is because Jesus established an upside-down kingdom, a kingdom in which the last are first and the first are last, a kingdom in which the poor, the meek, the humble and the downtrodden are blessed, while the rich, powerful and elite often walk away scratching their heads.
We make celebrity pastors when we think we need them.
Paul concludes his instructions regarding celebrity apostles by saying: “So then, no more boasting about human leaders! All things are yours, whether Paul or Apollos or Cephas or the world or life or death or the present or the future—all are yours, and you are of Christ, and Christ is of God” (1 Corinthians 3:21).
In addition to Rachel’s thoughtful post, I see two other areas where the Paparazzi Pastor and celebrity culture have overtaken the church.
We Make Paparazzi Pastors When The Pulpit Is Used For Profit
When a pastor turns to his Book Agent for ideas on his next big preaching series, the celebrity culture has won the day. At some point, the tail wags the dog, and teaching becomes a mere means to popularity and profit, but profit is not the purpose for the pulpit.
We Make Paparazzi Pastors When PR Agents Become Their Accountability
I read in the news yesterday that Pastor X hired a Public Relations Agent. When a Paparazzi Pastor takes the tithes of the people and, instead of helping the needy, he hires a PR agent to manage his public image, you know that the celebrity culture has overtaken the church.
What Can We Do?
Reformation begins with discernment. We need pictures of faith in action to contrast against PR machines in motion.
Check out this video which inspires me and makes me long for a day when the Church will stop consuming the Paparazzi pablum. and embrace humble servants within the local church who teach, practice their faith, and share their lives with the people.
In his book, “Ancient Future Faith” Robert Webber examines the crucial connection between faith and worldview. Webber outlines the major periods of Western thought and how each age has impacted the Christian’s ability to live out Faith with integrity.
“It is now common to think in terms of six discernible paradigms of time that can be traced in the complex history of the Western church. While these divisions are somewhat artificial because history does not change abruptly, we can nevertheless speak convincingly of the following periods of Western thought: primitive Christianity (the first century); the common era, with the emergence of classical Christianity (100–600); the medieval era, with the formation of a distinct Roman Christianity (600–1500); the explosion of the Reformation and the growth of Protestantism (1500–1750); the modern era, with the growth of denominations (1750–1980): and the postmodern period now emerging (1980– ).
In each of these periods of history, Christianity wrestled with unique sets of philosophical, scientific, and cultural factors. Throughout history Christians have always struggled to incarnate the faith in each particular culture. Consequently, a style of Christianity successful in one era changes as another era begins.” (Robert Webber, Ancient-Future Faith : Rethinking Evangelicalism for a Postmodern World (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books, 1999), 13.)
Faith plays a role in every worldview. Understanding faith’s role in each system of thought is essential if hope to communicate the Gospel across cultural and philosophic boundaries. The Kingdom worldview is unique in its ability to integrates reason and meaning so that faith is not devoid of a scientific, historical, or moral foundation. The figure below shows how faith is treated in each system of thought.
Faith has a role in each philosophy, but is limited by the foundation upon which it is built. Most significantly, the Kingdom worldview is rooted in the relationship of Divine Trinity and thus is the only system that allows us to truly create and maintain meaningful community.
In the fall of 2011, I released. my 7th book, “More Than Cake.” The book is titled after my blog, “More Than Cake” and contains 52 devotionals to build teams.
FUN FACT: The cover was a photo a took several years ago when visiting California and features my two oldest sons… I love this photo and am so pleased to use it on my book.
So what is the book all about?
Far too much of our Faith in the West is focused on the individual. Faith, in large part, has become so “personalized” that it has ceased to have meaning for the community of Church. So how do we buck the trends of culture and build emotionally connected and spiritually strong teams? One key component is sharing a common devotional life. This book is a compilation of 52 meditations conceived in the midst of my own suffering and pleasure while building a team. These devotionals take on issues of church, culture, and theology in a way that will engage your team in a full-orbed discussion of life. These pages contain some of my most intimate writings and it is my hope that they will bless you and your team as you learn to serve Christ together.
I am also very pleased to have the endorsement of my book from some good friends:
Dr. Phil StevensonDirector of Church Multiplication, Pacific Southwest District, Wesleyan Church.
Joe pulls from his wide experiential background to provide practical nourishment for the souls of core team members. If you genuinely want to plant a spiritually robust church you will need spiritually robust core members. Joe’s material will help you cultivate spiritual vitality in those men and women who will serve as the foundation for your new church.
Dr. Terry DorsettChurch Planting Catalyst with the North American Mission Board of the Great Commission Baptist Convention (SBC).
Joe challenges his readers with 52 of these team building meditations. This book is easy to read. It challenges the reader to think about how our human nature interacts with our leadership efforts and how we can shape those efforts so we can be more effective leaders.
Frank ViolaLeading Author and Speaker in the Organic Church Movement
Joe wrote the book for teams, but it’s good for individuals too Because Joe writes in a winsome style, it’s a fast read. The discussion sections slow you down to reflect on each devotion. I especially liked the quotes that Joe selected. They alone are worth the price of the book.
Gary IrbyDirector of Seattle Church Planting
Joe Miller is a man who loves Jesus, loves God’s word, loves the church…and he loves teams. In More Than Cake, Joe gives us a fresh look at the joys and challenges of being God’s children in a fallen world. By walking through these devotionals together, a team is well on the journey toward the same language, the same heart, and following the same Lord.
John H. ArmstrongPresident, ACT 3 Your Church Is Too Small
This is a rare devotional resource precisely because it is rooted in bringing the reader into deep reflection about the obedience of faith lived out in community. In a time when doing is far more important than being Joe Miller understands the real difference and guides you into being a true Jesus follower in relationship with others.
Felicity DaleAuthor, An Army of Ordinary People, co-author, Small is Big! Co-founder, House2House Ministries | www.simplychurch.com
More Than Cake is not your typical devotional. This thought-provoking meditation guide, designed for small group use, will challenge any group to become more effective, not just in building a sense of community but also in their approach to mission. Joe’s writing is both Insightful and stimulating!
Dr. J. David JacksonTeam Strategist for Church Multiplication Baptist Convention of Maryland/Delaware Primary author and editor of PlantLIFE: Principles and Practices in Church Planting
I heartily recommend this book! In More Than Cake, my friend Joe Miller has shared unique, creative weekly devotional thoughts that will provoke interest, dialogue and a deeper connection for teams seeking to grow together as they serve the Lord. With a church planter’s heart and a Biblical scholar’s head, Joe challenges conventional thinking and invites you into his discussion in ways that will strengthen and enrich the unity of your team. I intend to encourage all our church planters to use this book in developing their core groups, launch teams and later, their leadership staff.